Overlooked destinations in America – In its wonderfully diverse landscape, America is pretty much unrivaled.
There are many great southern towns as well.
There are few other countries in which you can see mountains, deserts, turquoise beaches, lush forests, glaciers and still be close to civilization and a thriving cultural scene.
Home to several National Parks, from the deserts of Nevada to the lush volcanic Yellowstone, magnificent Great Lakes and from iconic cities such as the cool and cosmopolitan New York (New York City’s Central Park) to the beating heart of Las Vegas, America is a land of discovery and adventure.Friendly people, staggering scenery, and nominal landmarks are just some of the things you are guaranteed to discover when travelling in the US of A.
Many people consider a trip to America to be the trip of a lifetime, and getting everything you want to see into your itinerary can take weeks. Months, even. We know!
Whether you choose to hire a car and drive Route ’66, hitchhike à la Holly from Lou Reed’s ‘Wild Side’, or join an organised tour such as those created by Grand American Adventures, you can be sure that as well as some of the more obvious choices, you will encounter some overlooked destinations.
Overlooked destinations in America
OK, this is a whole state, and OK, it is not entirely overlooked.
Even the Simpsons have been there, but Alaska is sometimes relegated to ‘other’ because of its location.
It is the largest and most sparsely populated of US states with a huge diversity, both culturally and in its landscape.
Known for its salmon fishing, Alaska and water sports are pretty synonymous:
kayaking, spearfishing and white water rafting to name a few.
Alaska is great for whale watching in the right season, as well as canoeing in some of the clearest glacier waters.
Beautiful wilderness and of course the fun husky rides are some of the key features of trips to Alaska, and since it is so vast and diverse, we recommend taking a couple of weeks to really acclimatize and discover everything this stunning scenery has to offer.
Speeding past miles of glacier on a dog sled is sure to create a lifelong memory of this unique and majestic state.
Like Alaska, Hawaii is sometimes a forgotten part of the US, and it has so much more to offer than the usual spots of Honolulu and Waikiki. At Pahoa lies the world’s most active volcano.
A curtain of fire belches from the belly of the earth, which can be viewed at the bottom of the volcano, in its skirts.
This is an adventure that requires some stamina, and is not for the faint of heart.
It’ll get hot, windy and arduous at times, but seeing something so unique is a once in a lifetime opportunity on a Hawaii vacation.
Kauai & Oahu – Hawaii
What’s great about the Hawaiian islands is that there is something for everyone.
Some people like Kauai the best because it’s less touristy and perhaps the most beautiful island of them all.
Because it’s the island which gets the most rain it is also one of the lushest and greenest, full of waterfalls and rain forest.
Other people prefer Oahu, an island where you can be guaranteed not to get bored.
While Oahu hotels are easy to find, it’s a little bit more difficult with hostels, so I would probably recommend having proper Hawaii vacations and splurge a little.
Portland – underground smuggler’s tunnels
Known as Shanghai Tunnels, this series of underground networks in Portland, Oregon are just one of its many attractions as an offbeat, alternative place to visit.
Interconnected tunnels lying underneath the city are also all connected to the docks, meaning that ship’s cargo could be protected from savage weather.
However, there was a grimy underbelly that operated in the tunnels back in the 1840’s – until around 1941, during World War II.
The term ‘Shanghai’ was used to describe a process by which men were captured and sold to crew on boats.
Often, the techniques used were underhand, such as drugging them with opium or waiting until they were inebriated and could be dragged through the underground tunnels to the ship’s captain.
Women were advised not to walk alone in these areas too, where the kidnapping of several daughters was documented.
Accessible by foot, there are tours of the tunnels at weekends.
Rush, Ghost Town, Arkansas
Historically a town that flourished as zinc mining capital, Rush is a ghost town that shows the decline of mining in Arkansas.
Officially declared a ghost town in the seventies, it has become a part of the Buffalo River National Park, and as such, the buildings and mines are maintained by the Park Service.
However, the mines could still be dangerous and visitors are not permitted to enter them.
You can, however trek a trail around them and visit the surrounding houses, which are all eerily empty.
Carhenge, Alliance, Nebraska
If the original Stonehenge in England isn’t curious enough, then this replica made by artist Jim Reinders sure is.
Fascinated by the mystery of Stonehenge, Reinders used a series of cars to recreate the structure in metal.
First erected in 1982, the sculpture has attracted people to an otherwise overlooked area of the great plains.
Anyone can visit the site any time of day, although the imposing silhouettes at dusk make for interesting photography.
Nearby, there is also a cute frontier town, which depicts life in Nebraska some 150 years ago, mixing the modern with history.
Devil’s Kettle, Minnesota
An aquatic mystery and beautiful waterfall lies within Judge Magney State Park in Minnesota.
Viewed from the top, it appears like any natural waterfall, and yet half of the water cascades 50 feet down into the Brule River, to end up forming part of Lake Superior.
However, the mysterious part is what happens to the other half, which falls into a sort of ‘cauldron’ basin and ultimately disappears.
People have tried putting dye into the potholes to track where the water goes, but its ultimate destination has never been discovered, earning it the name Devil’s Kettle.
Apostle Island Sea Caves, Wisconsin
In summertime, this incredible network of underground caverns can be explored by foot, underneath Lake Superior.
But what happens in winter when they become temples of ice is truly unforgettable.
When the lake freezes over, its caves underneath also freeze, forming amazing icicles along the cave walls.
A trek through the ice caves can be arranges during the winter months, although it is best to check with the Apostle Island Park Service whether it has been cold enough for the lake to freeze over sufficiently.
Similar to the concept of cherry blossoms in Japan, the ice caves are revered for their fleeting appearance, and need to be caught at just the right time.
Your first inclination is obvious: “why do I need to worry about bringing food back from Europe?
It’s not like I’m visiting any third-world countries it’ll be fine!”
Indeed, that’s what many Americans think.
Europe To America
The reality is a little more complicated than judging the safety of food importation based on the GDP of the country of origin.
In 2007 alone U.S. customs officials seized 4,300 items from airline passengers and other visitors unaware of current regulations regarding the bringing of certain plant and animal products across the border.
Many of those seized items were European in origin, no doubt ranging in expense from a candy apple to a wheel of Brie.
It’s important to know what you can bring back BEFORE you buy it.
The vacation in France or time spent in Italy almost always comes with the assumption that a bottle of wine can be brought back.
Wine, along with most liquor, is generally acceptable to bring back without incident, though travelers are limited to one liter each.
In general baked and processed goods are safe to bring back that includes most packaged chocolates and snack foods.
Jarred items, things that are pickled or preserved or overall lack the environment for dangerous pathogens to breed in are for the most part acceptable.
The government concerns itself primarily with making sure that dietary staples such as cheese, meat, and potatoes are not grown or processed in conditions that are drastically different than those under U.S. standards.
The higher the risk a product has for contamination IE the rawness or lack of proper packaging, the more likely officials are going to reject it.
That means most moist cheeses, cured meats, and the majority of raw produce.
In Europe these items can be tantalizing gifts for those back at home.
They can also be incredibly expensive.
You certainly want to make sure that you don’t purchase $100.00 worth of Hungarian salami only to be forced to throw it away when you enter customs.
It’s worth noting that you should never attempt to deceive customs officials.
The penalties can fines as high as $10,000 depending on what you tried to sneak into the country.
When in doubt, consider the following: Before you depart, consult the USDA website on the issue.
Once you are in Europe, revisit the guidelines the government makes available to you before making a purchase.
Upon your return, if you suspect you may have brought back something that is illegal, make sure you make customs officials aware of the situation.
If you’ve set aside a fund for food to bring back, do the right research – it’ll save you money when you’re traveling and heartbreak when you return – enjoy Europe! 😉
Going Retro In America, Retro Things To Do
While you can’t really travel back in time, there is nothing stopping you from pretending that you are, and in America, getting a taste of the old days is actually easier than you think.
These days, retro is “in”, and cafes, shops and cinemas are popping up all over the world.
Here are a few of Americas gems that I would not want to miss on a visit to the States.
Retro Drive-In Theaters
Getting cozy in a retro drive-in theater watching some old school movies has to be among the best ways to travel back in time to the good old 50’s.
Bengies Drive-In Theater in Baltimore, opened on June 6 in 1956 – and is still operating – with triple features on Fridays and Saturdays, vintage trailers and FM or AM radio car speakers, this place gives you the true original drive-in movie theater experience.
Another old-school drive-in theater is The Wellfleet Drive-In Theater in Wellfleet, MA – the theater opened in 1957, and is still today a favorite spot for those mild summer evenings.
When it comes to dining in retro style, there are plenty of options all over the country.
With red leather booths, milkshakes, burgers and juke boxes – places like Pann’s restaurant on La Tijera Blvd in L.A, are the perfect classic diners for retro lovers.
Many people swear by this place, and whenever they return for holidays to California and visit Los Angeles, this is where they head first.
If you’ve wanted to know what it would’ve been like to eat at a diner in the 1950s, Pann’s is the place to find out.
They’ve been in the business since 1958, and aside from the staff, nothing else seems to have changed…
Dress up in your best and most colorful 80’s outfits, sing at the top of your lungs to Journey and other 80’s classics, and work those gluts for all you’re worth under the spinning disco balls at White Rock Skate Center in Dallas.
When you’re exhausted, grab a Hokey Pokey from the snack bar and rest while checking out the photos of the place taken in the early 70’s.
Historical Amusement Parks
The Beach Boardwalk in Santa Cruz has been a popular place for over 100 years, and today this classic park still thriving.
Take a ride on the carousel from 1911, or the Giant Dipper, a wooden roller coaster that is also a historical landmark, built in 1924.
On the highest point of the ride you get an amazing view over the boardwalk.
Another highlight of the parks attractions is the free entertainment shows, oh, and the admission to the boardwalk itself is also free.
These are just four out of hundreds of things to do and places to visit on holidays to America in retro-style.
The best way to top this off would be to rent an old-school convertible for the trip!
Where are your favorite retro places in USA?
Quick Travel Guide To California
Looking at California on a map doesn’t really do it justice – it’s difficult to get an idea just how vast and diverse the state is.
Visitors to California come from across the world for a chance to cruise down the Big Sur coastline, stroll the San Francisco waterfront or discover the breathtaking Yosemite National Park.
Most USA holidays have a reputation for size, scale and adventure, but there’s such a staggering amount to see and do in California, that planning exactly how you’ll spend your time can be a tough proposition.
To make it easier for you to plan a trip to California, here is a quick introduction to the different parts of the state and what they have to offer…
In the southern city of San Diego, you’ll find shops, gardens and a bustling metropolitan atmosphere.
The city is close to the border, so don’t be surprised to get a taste of Mexico and central America as you take in the sights!
Known for its near-perfect climate and impressive beaches, it’s also a great destination for all sorts of water activities, from surfing to whale watching to scuba diving.
The famous SeaWorld theme park is also located in San Diego.
You can choose to stay in the action of San Diego’s cosmopolitan city, but few things beat a San Diego vacation rental right by the beach, watching the sun set over the ocean from your balcony.
Further inland, Palm Springs is a desert oasis and a resort town that has hosted its fair share of Hollywood stars over the years.
You’ll you have the chance to relax in spas and restaurants, or explore spectacular nearby canyons and mountains.
Yosemite National Park
You’ll find opportunities for adventures and exploration all across California – nowhere more so than in Yosemite National Park.
Gigantic and sprawling, you could spend weeks walking the trails of the park, home to crystal lakes, snow-capped mountains and miles of dense pine forest.
Tours take visitors on a dramatic journey through Yosemite’s unspoiled natural beauty.
In what promises to be an unforgettable portion of your Californian experience.
From the natural splendor of Yosemite, California cities offer a superb urban contrast.
San Francisco teems with culture and a thriving art and music scene set against famous landmarks like Alcatraz, the Golden Gate Bridge and the Embarcadero.
Further south, Los Angeles is a spectacular Metropolis stretching as far as the eye can see: from the golden Hollywood Hills, to the colourful piers of Santa Monica and Venice beach.
It’s hard to get bored in L.A – you’ll be able to take trips around Hollywood studios and theme parks, before wining and dining in one of the most glamorous urban environments in the world.
These are just a few of many amazing places in California, I hope I’ve inspired you to go there and see it for yourselves!
Scenery, Culture and History You Can Only Find in Oklahoma
With 39 Native American Indian tribes in Oklahoma, the heritage continues to be rich in Native American customs.
With many true western experiences such as rodeos, country music, historical landmarks and national parks, Oklahoma is a state with a history you’ll not want to miss.
Check out the top 5 activities that will provide the best experience of Native American Culture:
Cherokee Tribal Villages
Located in the beautiful foothills of the Ozarks in Tahlequah is a Cherokee village that displays the life and customs of a mysterious, yet very spiritual tribe.
Join in the tribe’s cultural dances, powwows, parades and the rich cultural customs of everyday life in a Cherokee village.
Sequoyah’s Cabin, Sallisaw
Sallisaw was a Cherokee silversmith who developed his tribes native written language.
Living in a small one room log cabin east of Sallisaw, the cabin is a historic landmark.
Sallisaw worked tirelessly on this amazing task- writing the Cherokee’s alphabet while residing in the cabin that was built in 1829.
Rodeos Reign in Oklahoma
The 101 Wild West Rodeo in Ponca City is believed to be the birthplace of the rodeo in Oklahoma.
The Miller Brothers Ranch is where bronco riding and roping calves and horses came into existence and is still enjoyed by many who love the sport.
There are several rodeos throughout the state of Oklahoma.
In Oklahoma City, the International Finals Rodeo Competition is held at the State Fair Grounds.
Cowboys compete in the U.S. Team Roping Competition events held throughout the year.
Head on over to Vinta where Will Rogers Rodeo is known for its bull riding competitions.
The World’s Largest Calf Frying Festival is also held in Vinta, Oklahoma.
Country Music, Bluegrass Music in Nowata
Nowata, Oklahoma is home to musical entertainment for the whole family.
Known for its Grand Ole Opry style music, the Nowata Country Jubilee takes to heart, not only its love for many types of music, but welcomes guests from near and far with live entertainment and great food.
Nowata got its name from a Lenape tribesman who gave it its name that means “friendly.”
In Oklahoma there are more than 200 lakes.
Their beauty is astounding and many visit Oklahoma purely to enjoy the many water activities such as fishing, canoeing, sailing, scuba diving and swimming.
Lake Arbuckles, located in Chickasaw Country, is situated in the states oldest national park.
It is known as the best lake for bass fishing and ranks number one for water sports.
Enjoy camping, rafting, fishing, scuba diving and more in this lovely scenic park on Lake Arbuckles.
Grand Teton National park receives around 2.7 million visitors each summer; and for those who aren’t traveling there this year, the parks are likely on a life bucket list.
Grab your camera and don’t miss out on any of these experiences of the Grand Tetons.
Enjoy the Grand Teton National Park Mountains
It’s all about the mountains in Grand Teton National Park.
Twelve snow-capped peaks surround the park’s namesake and act as a stunning backdrop for the entire region.
Hardcore climbers scramble up icy moraine for an epic summit view, and hikers enjoy well-maintained trails that wind through fields of sagebrush and dense evergreen forests.
Four visitor centers and six campgrounds operate during the summer; these are excellent starting points for exploring the area.
Take a Scenic Drive
The park is immense, and the best way to see it all is to take a scenic drive.
TravelStorysGPS is a free resource that allows people to listen to GPS-enabled audio tours of the local history, ecology, and geology as they drive through the park.
Teton Park Road follows the base of the range, while the Jenny Lake Scenic Drive has spectacular views of the peaks from across the lake.
Signal Mountain Summit Road provides valley views and stunning panoramas of the mountains.
Occasional bison crossings hold up traffic — Grand Teton National Park is not as busy as Yellowstone, so visitors have a better chance of glimpsing wildlife.
Thousands of migrating elk pass through the region, and the National Elk Refuge is the place to watch the wapitis’ journey.
Look for the Rifle Optics of hunters in the area.
Enjoy the Water
Floating the Snake River is another popular way to see the sights, and more adventurous paddlers can tackle class III whitewater.
You can also enjoy the water on a stand up paddle board.
Horseback riding, mountain biking and even aerial tours provide unique perspectives on the park’s natural wonders.
Roam the streets like a Cowboy
Perched at the edge of the wilderness, Jackson Hole may seem like a relic of a bygone era: Cowboys at heart will love its daily, old-fashioned, town square shootout.
But behind this gruff wild western facade is a truly modern town.
Jackson Hole offers world-class dining and entertainment.
The Grand Teton Music Festival features a series of concerts performed by internationally renowned musicians.
Each winter, skiers flock to Jackson Hole Mountain Resort for its challenging runs and reliable powder.”
Shops in town sell everything from souvenirs to snowboards, and outfitters organize trekking tours and provide all the necessary equipment for outdoor adventuring.
There’s no better way to get outdoors than to visit Grand Teton National Park.
Four million visitors a year can’t be wrong: Grand Teton National Park and neighboring Jackson Hole are world-class destinations all year long.
What To Do In Boston City Guide
Boston City Guide – Boston is one of the United States’ most energetic and cultural cities – the capital of Massachusetts, it is a historical New England city, rife with art exhibits and museums.
Sports lovers, especially Red Sox fans, run rampant, flaunting their jovial rivalry with nearby New Yorkers.
Boston is large and packed with things to do, so unless you’re in town for a few weeks, you’ll have to choose your activities and events wisely…
Where To Stay in Boston
The Back Bay Hotel in Boston is one of the city’s landmarks and is located near the Charles River.
Originally, the building was the Boston Police Department.
For travelers, this hotel is in a great location, whether you’re touring the area for fun or in town for business.
What To See in Boston
Close by to the Boston Common public park is the Boston Public Garden.
Well known for its swan boats from 1877, the Garden’s lake is not to be missed.
Near Faneuil Hall you’ll find Quincy Market, which has both indoor and outdoor shops and restaurants, all set up as a marketplace.
While you can walk to many of the sights around Boston, you may also want to take a Duck Tour.
If you have the kids along or want a romantic day date with your sweetheart, head to the New England Aquarium.
Historical Sites and Walking Trails in Boston
Take a stroll down the two and a half mile Freedom Trail.
You’ll visit sixteen historical sites as you go.
Start off with the oldest public park in the U.S., Boston Common.
You’ll also visit the Bunker Hill Monument.
To ensure you’re heading in the right direction, follow the red-marked path.
You can also snag a guidebook to help you figure out where to go and what to see.
Other notable sites you’ll pass include the Old State House, Faneuil Hall, Paul Revere’s home and several churches.
A second walking trail is the Black Heritage Trail.
While you won’t pass it on the Freedom Trail, history buffs will want to pay a visit to the New England Holocaust Memorial.
When in Boston, you can also see the USS Constitution, which is the United States’ oldest commissioned ship.
If you visit Boston Harbor National Park, you’ll see the Confederate landmark of Fort Warren.
Pop Culture Attractions in Boston
If you’re a TV or movie lover, events in Boston is the place for you.
There are two Cheers bars, both a nod to the popular television show.
One of the Cheers bars was used for the outdoor shots for the TV show.
The other bar, found in Quincy Market, is a copy of the show’s set.
There’s also an interactive, Indian Jones-themed TOMB attraction with excellent special effects.
Shopping in Boston
If you’re interested in shopping, I’d highly suggest you check out Beacon Hill, which is chock full of charming townhouses and cobblestone streets.
This neighborhood has many shopping opportunities, too, like stylish Newberry Street.
You can also visit Filene’s Basement, which has been a leader in retail since the 1900’s.
Museums in Boston
Boston has tons of museums for both art and history lovers.
There’s the Museum of Science, the John F. Kennedy Library and Museum, the Museum of Fine Arts and also the Museum of Afro American History.
Bring the kids to the Children’s Museum of Boston, too.
Share your best tip below!
When it comes to US destinations that are rich in culture, I think it’s pretty hard to beat events in Boston.
The city has so many cultural things to offer, from historic buildings and the fascinating Freedom Trail to iconic breweries and great galleries.
This year, the city will be further adding to its already impressive list of attractions with the inaugural Out of the Box Festival – and you can find out all about it with my guide …
What Is Out Of The Box?
Out of the Box is a free music festival scheduled to be staged in Boston for the very first time this year.
The festival promises to provide a good mix of free and cheap outdoor performances, and unlike a lot of other festivals which only focus on a specific music genre, this festival aims to celebrate the arts much more broadly, and to get both locals and visitors alike involved in it.
So, you can expect a pretty eclectic mix of performances!
While the official program is (at the timing of writing, at least!) yet to be announced, the organizers have promised ballet, modern poetry, Shakespeare, folk dance, circus, culinary arts and much more.
Why Should You Go?
You might be wondering why you should choose to attend the Out of the Box festival as opposed to some of the city’s other free events (of which there are many!).
Obviously it’s largely a matter of personal taste, but I find there’s something uniquely appealing about Out of the Box – partly because it’s totally new.
Indeed, as this will be the first incarnation of the event, attending it will give you the chance to experience a momentous occasion – and to mingle with locals.
Another good reason to stop by is that it’s free.
Now, this might sound a little silly at first, but what I mean by this is that if you’re planning to visit Boston in the summer months anyway, it makes for a fantastic extra.
And, because it’s free, if you don’t like it, you haven’t lost anything by going.
A fabulous thing to do if you want to explore the main sights is follow the famous Freedom Trail (a 2.5-mile walk), while you can visit Hostelbookers for more ideas of things to do, as well as places to stay.
When and Where Is It happening?
Running from July 13th to 20th, the Out of the Box festival is scheduled to be centered around Boston Common.
While this’ll act as the event’s hub, there will be a host of outdoor venues taking part, including Christopher Columbus Waterfront Park and Copley Square.
These venues all promise to showcase a mixture of upcoming and independent voices, as well as performances from established institutions.
I hope this mini guide inspired you to go and check out this new Boston event to see what all the fuss is about!
Best Events In Boston – Drink Craft Beer Fall to Winter Fest
Best Events In Boston – I never let the colder months stand in the way of a holiday – in fact, I particularly love city breaks in the winter because of the magical atmosphere created by Christmas and lots of special gatherings.
One destination perfect for a winter getaway is Boston – here are my picks of the top events in Boston to check out in the city during December:
Revere Hotel, November 30th and December 1st
As a huge fan of the UK’s various real ale festivals, this is one event I can truly appreciate.
The Drink Craft Beer Fall to Winter Fest offers up plenty of locally made beers that will warm up anyone suffering in the cold weather, with more than 70 tipples from around 25 brewers to try.
If you’re concerned about the prospect of spending an entire day (or even the whole weekend!) simply drinking, don’t be.
You can line your stomach with seasonal food sold by local companies throughout the event.
Symphony Hall, December 5th to 24th
This classic Boston tradition is a brilliant event to attend if you’re heading to Boston with the kids.
Keith Lockhart and the Boston Pops put on a festive show to remember for the whole family each year, with lots of singing along and even a visit from Father Christmas himself.
Look out for the special kids’ matinees on Saturdays, which offer a real treat for children through photo ops with Santa, child-friendly menus and much more.
This might be a good option if you’re travelling to Boston with very young children and are on a tight budget, as under-twos get in for free.
Christmas by Candlelight
Old Sturbridge Village, Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays between December 7th and 23rd
You’ll have to head out of the city proper into Greater Boston to enjoy this event, but this is definitely my idea of a wonderful Christmas celebration.
Old Sturbridge Village is a living history museum featuring costumed historians and buildings, and is transformed into a festive attraction in December.
The Christmas by Candlelight events celebrate the season in true traditional style, complete with sleigh rides, Victorian carol singers, a Punch and Judy show, and much more besides.
It’s a great way to escape the stress that the modern age’s Christmas festivities can bring!
First Night Festival of the Arts
Citywide, December 31st
Anyone planning a break in Boston around Christmas and the turn of the year should definitely make this festival a priority on their itinerary.
The event celebrates the impending new year with a day of exhibitions at venues across the city, showcasing the work of an amazing 1,000 artists.
There are also lots of performances to see, as well as film screenings and workshops.
I can’t think of a better way to spend New Year’s Eve before enjoying the huge fireworks display that’s part of the festivities at midnight.
Holiday planning tips
If one or more of these events in Boston sound appealing, you might be thinking about organizing a holiday to Boston pretty soon.
Make sure you follow my top tips before you do!
Book early Traveling to Boston
Like pretty much any other major city, Boston is a hugely popular place to visit in the run-up to Christmas as everyone looks to get in the festive mood and pick up some presents.
Make sure you book your Boston flights and accommodation as soon as possible to avoid paying a premium on your airfare and hotel room.
You’ll want to take in some of the major attractions between the events in Boston.
Make sure you know exactly when and where the festivals you want to attend are taking place so you can map out the rest of your itinerary accordingly.
Pack the right clothes For Boston Weather
Temperatures in Boston average out at just over zero degrees C in December – so don’t forget to pack those woolly jumpers, hats and gloves!
Fourth of July – The 4th of July – When any country commemorates its independence, you can be sure of extravagant celebrations and festivities.
However, for the United States of America, the fourth of July is a truly momentous occasion, with millions of citizens up and down the country taking to the streets to display their undivided patriotism.
Even so, there are still plenty of opportunities for tourists to take part in the day’s events, with numerous traditions and activities on offer for the whole family.
No matter what part of the United States you’re in, when the calendar hits the 4th of July, you’ll be more than ready to celebrate America’s birthday with the rest of the nation.
The 4th of July is huge everywhere in the country, and it’s something many Americans look forward to even months and months before.
There are some Fourth of July Traditions however that have existed ever since, and these are the traditions that make this holiday extra special for many:
Fourth of July Fireworks
Even though fireworks can be used at any old party or festival, America’s night sky on the fourth of July is far from an everyday occurrence.
Numerous households are sure to buy their own display for the backyard, but the best fireworks will be seen at the nation’s major tourist attractions.
It’s never the 4th of July without fireworks, and this is true no matter what state you live in.
Whether you’re headed to the Macy’s 4th of July Fireworks Show in New York, one of the top things to see in Central Park.
Or you’re in a cruise ship by the San Francisco Bay watching the sky light up, fireworks are the most traditional way to celebrate America’s independence.
Each key city has its own dazzling display of fireworks for everyone to enjoy, but even smaller neighborhoods also set up their own fireworks displays.
It is said that this tradition dates back to 1777, when Congress wanted to use fireworks to celebrate the first anniversary of American independence, a year after the Declaration of Independence was signed in Philadelphia.
Since then, fireworks have been used to commemorate this very important day in history.
Known for the Golden Gate Bridge, Alcatraz Island and Fisherman’s Wharf, San Francisco is a holiday hot spot throughout the year.
But for the best views of the Independence Day fireworks here, head out to the bay on a Red & White Fleet Cruise.
Block Party, BBQs and Picnics
Independence Day is a chance for the whole street to get together, show some neighborly love and pay tribute to the country’s forefathers.
Although the popularity of suburban block parties has declined in recent years, organised events in major cities look to recreate that community spirit.
The nation’s capital Washington DC will be hosting its annual block party just steps from the White House, while Los Angeles’ Grand Park hosts live music, traditional food and maybe even the occasional drink.
Celebrating the 4th of July doesn’t have to be elaborate and commercial.
It can be as simple as a BBQ or picnic with your friends and family in the comfort of your own backyard.
What’s important is keeping the spirit of people gathering together and enjoying the holiday with the best food.
There’s also added fun when you grill the burgers and hot dogs by yourself.
There’s also no stopping you from getting together with the entire community, with a bigger picnic, say in the park.
Some other communities also mount their own fairs, concerts, and booths in an outdoor location, and everyone is welcome to participate.
Independence Day Parade and Other Colonial Attractions
It is easy to get carried away with the celebrations and forget why the fourth of July is such a significant event.
With numerous colonial attractions taking place, tourists can learn about America’s history alongside the locals.
From the Gettysburg re-enactment, to the Boston Pops performance of the 1812 Overture, adults and children alike will enjoy these educational activities.
The 4th of July, first and foremost, is a historical day that sparks patriotism in every American.
It’s a celebration of the day that the final draft of the Declaration of Independence was signed by the Second Continental Congress.
Many states have their own parades because it’s a great way to bring people together and celebrate the day, but Philadelphia always takes it a notch higher, especially because the Declaration was signed there.
Celebrating the 4th of July in America’s birthplace is unlike any other, with a 1.2 mile parade joined by around 6,000.
The parade starts in front of the historical Independence Hall, continues on towards Market Street and all the way down Delaware River.
Philadelphia is home to many colonial attractions during this day, but so is Boston.
The USS John F. Kennedy will usually sail into the harbor while the orchestra is playing on the riverbanks.
This is sure to give you a dose of history and nationalistic pride.
Nathan’s Famous International Hot Dog Eating Contest
Another well-loved tradition that only happens once a year is Nathan’s Famous International Hot Dog Eating Contest in Coney Island, Brooklyn.
Here you will find thousands gather to cheer on the contestants eating as many hotdogs and buns as they could in 10 minutes.
Red, White, and Blue
You will be seeing these 3 colors together the most during this time of year, and you should embrace it.
During the 4th of July, expect red, white, and blue everywhere: from the flags on the streets to decorations in restaurants and shops.
You can even use these colors to decorate your own home and car to show off your patriotic side.
During picnics and BBQs, you get themed cups, paper napkins, paper plates, and even party hats.
You will have balloons, streamers, and confetti of this color, and it’s the perfect way to show your patriotic spirit even in your own backyard.
No matter where you plan to be on the 4th of July, just remember that these well-loved Fourth of July Traditions are there for a reason, and everyone is more than welcome to try them out.
It’s good to plan your 4th of July holiday beforehand, so you can either stage your own party and gathering or participate in the best parties with your friends and the bigger community.
If you’re planning to visit other states to check out what they have to offer, this is also an option that may prove to be the most memorable 4th of July for you yet.
Getaway to Lovely Port Washington Wisconsin
Taking a few days away from the everyday bustle is so worthwhile.
That’s certainly how I felt after my getaway to lovely Port Washington, Wisconsin.
With the turning of the seasons, I wanted to get out and explore somewhere new.
A friend of mine suggested Port Washington, which is just 30 minutes north of Milwaukee.
She’s been going there with her family for years.
When I heard about the historic downtown, the lighthouse, and the beautiful scenery on Lake Michigan, I was hooked.
From my first glimpse of the city, I was awestruck by how picturesque Port Washington is.
It reminded me of a charming New England fishing village, yet there I was on the shores of Lake Michigan!
My first order of business was to check into the Port Hotel.
This elegant bed and breakfast is in the perfect location for exploring the city.
It features 10 unique and beautiful rooms, many with gorgeous views of the harbor.
I can’t say enough about these wonderful accommodations.
Between the fireplace and the whirlpool tub, I had everything I needed for a relaxing stay.
The room service breakfast was superb.
I can personally recommend the eggs Benedict prime rib and the kailua pecan waffles, but I’m certain that anything they serve is delicious.
After a big breakfast, it was time to get out for some exercise.
Fortunately, the weather was amazing.
I asked at the front desk about renting a bicycle, and was pointed in the direction of a local shop.
After finding a rental bike for my size, I was off to explore the Ozaukee Interurban Trail.
Riding along the 30 miles of the trail just might be the best way to get acquainted with Port Washington and neighboring communities.
It’s fully paved, and offers some great opportunities for seeing birds and wildlife.
After a nice long ride, I was ready to explore on foot.
I headed into Port Washington’s historic downtown.
The shopping here is quaint and incredible.
I love that all of the stores are housed in 19th century buildings.
It really is a charming area for finding unique, one-of-a-kind shops.
I included the harbor area in my explorations, and enjoyed seeing schools of fish, ducks, seagulls, and a few fish jumping.
I stopped for a wonderful lunch at the Dockside Deli.
I was completely intrigued by this beautiful town, so I decided to spend some time looking into its history. A guided tour of the Judge Eghart House demonstrated how people lived in Port Washington during the Victorian era.
I also wandered to the nearby town of Saukville to visit the fascinating Ozaukee County Pioneer Village.
The village features 24 historic buildings from the area.
With plenty of costumed re-enactors on hand, visiting here was a lot like stepping back in time.
Whether I was cycling on the trails or walking the boardwalk, I encountered many friendly faces.
Port Washington is very welcoming of visitors, and the people all have wonderful recommendations for things to do and places to go.
I’m already planning a return trip so I can be there for one of the community festivals.
Reasons Why San Francisco – Cultural Immersion
If you haven’t been to San Francisco yet, start researching.
Then do whatever it takes to get there – whether that means by train, plane, ferry, car or air charter.
You’ll enjoy a special experience and really get a sense of the culture while there.
San Francisco is a unique city well worth exploring, with a fascinating international flair to it.
Very few American cities possess an identity based on the composite of their neighborhoods.
Much of America is inundated with strip malls, suburbia and sterile, commercial culture.
Cities like New York City, Boston, Chicago, New Orleans and of course San Francisco are leading examples of the depth and breadth that unique neighborhoods offer to a metropolis.
San Francisco’s Chinatown is the largest outside of Asia and the oldest in America.
North Beach in San Francisco has a European flair with its many cafes, street side trattorias, beatnik history and innocuous red light district.
Chinatown and North Beach sit right next to each other.
Therefore, in a matter of blocks, you’re transported between two worlds.
The Food Culture
Many people outside of America think the quality of American food isn’t great.
However, when your perspective is limited to McDonald’s (which are almost nonexistent in San Francisco), hot dogs and pizza, you’re unaware of true American culinary pleasures.
These iconic foods misrepresent America’s gastronomic talent.
In contrast, San Francisco features regional dishes where you’ll find magic at the end of a fork.
Eating here is done with sophistication and purpose.
San Franciscan chefs continually stretch the boundaries of their trade.
They create decadent, original dishes you’ll only find here.
San Francisco offers some amazingly delicious fresh seafood.
There’s any kind of Asian food you could ever imagine.
You can easily enjoy fabulous Mexican.
And given its access to the rich, diverse California growers, there’s locally sourced, artisanal food products: milk, cheese, mushrooms, meat and many more.
The Street Culture
Much like bustling European cities, San Franciscans love to be on the streets.
People greatly enjoy walking here, and why not?
With so many neat places to discover, tucked all over the city, the only way to uncover them is to get intimate with the city and walk.
The many bicyclists, street vendors, trolleys, cable cars, even the elderly Chinese men pushing around their hand trucks in Chinatown translate into an unmistakable lively and boisterous atmosphere on the street.
The streets have a pulse that ebbs and flows.
You will feel it and become a part of it. As a result, San Francisco has some world class “people watching.”
Pull up a street side chair and a beer in the financial district to watch the locals, or go to North Beach and enjoy a cappuccino while life soothingly settles into a slow drip.
The music scene in San Francisco is also top notch.
You may well enjoy some tunes as you wander the streets.
A lot of people from around the globe call San Francisco home.
Sure you’ll undoubtedly see lots of foreign tourists in Fisherman’s Wharf and along the Embarcadero.
However, you’ll be surprised by how many you encounter off the beaten tourist path.
Whether it’s a French couple on BART (the local metro service), a Russian coed heading across the bay to Oakland, a lovely Italian woman that can barely speak English working in a bakery, or a Mexican mother doing her produce shopping, San Francisco’s diversity astounds.
Usually this kind of diversity owes to a city being a vital transportation hub.
The port of San Francisco deserves credit for attracting an impressive multicultural assortment.
Many things to do in San Francisco
Also, be sure to check out all the attractions at Golden Gate Park where you can experience even more culture and insight into this engaging city.
Have you been to San Francisco – did you enjoy your visit?
Attractions at San Francisco’s Golden Gate Park
If you’re wondering what to do in San Francisco, start with Golden Gate Park.
This enormous, beautiful green oasis in the middle of the city is stuffed with fun attractions and activities.
It wasn’t easy to choose only a handful, but here are five that you just can’t miss.
Take a ride on the Golden Gate Park Carousel
The enchanting Golden Gate Park Carousel was built in 1915 and retains all of its original beauty and charm.
The glittering menagerie boasts 62 carved wooden animal figurines, from the beloved horses to frogs, dogs, and more exotic creatures!
A magical whirl on the carousel is a sweet adventure for adults and children alike, and it’s hard to stop after just one ride!
Where: 320 Bowling Green Drive, between John F. Kennedy Drive and Martin Luther King Jr. Drive.
When: The carousel is open daily from Memorial Day to Labor Day, and then Friday through Sunday from the day after Labor Day through the day before Memorial Day, from 10 am. The last ride of the day is at 4:15 pm
Admission: Adults, $2 per ride, children ages 6 to 12 years $1 per ride. Children 5 and under are free when accompanied by a paying adult.
Explore the DeYoung Museum
This beautiful fine-arts museum showcases treasures from all over the world, and is one the most respected San Francisco attractions.
You could spend days poring over the permanent collection, but the incredible textiles and costumes holdings are an especially spectacular sight.
Spanning two millenia and featuring textiles of all types, from birchbark to beading, there are more than 12,000 pieces to enjoy.
High fashion is well represented, with amazing 20th century couture pieces from all the major houses.
Outside the statue garden is a peaceful spot to unwind while admiring contemporary sculptures.
Where: 50 Hagiwara Tea Garden Drive, within Golden Gate Park.
When: Open Tuesday – Sunday, 9:30 am to 5 pm. Late opening until 8:45 p.m. on Fridays.
Admission: Adult,; $10, seniors 65 and over, $7, college students with ID; $6. Children 13 and under are free.
There is no admission fee charged for visiting the museum courtyard, sculpture garden, tower, cafe or store.
Wander through the Conservatory of Flowers
The building itself is unique: the beautiful traditional glass and wood framed conservatory was completed in 1878, making it the oldest building in the park as well as the oldest wooden conservatory in the country.
As you stroll from room to room beneath the glittering glass, you will encounter almost 2000 species of exotic plants from around the world.
It’s a peaceful escape from the bustle of the city, and your senses are soothed by the glorious natural scents and colors which surround you.
The existing collection has been lovingly curated for generations, while special exhibits bring fresh and exciting specimens to the public all year round.
It’s a place to relax, to learn, and to relish the very special beauty of flowers.
Where: The Conservatory of Flowers is located on JFK Drive.
When: Open Tues – Sunday, 10 am – 4:30 pm. Last entry admitted at 4:00 pm. Conservatory is closed on Mondays but open on many major holidays.
Admission: Adults: $7.00. Seniors, students w/ I.D, and youth 12-17: $5.00. Children 5-11: $2.00 (Children under 4 are free)
On the first Tuesday of every month, the Conservatory offers free admission to all..
Visit the Buffalo Paddock
The name is a bit misleading. You’ll actually be paying a visit to the noble American Bison, who have graced Golden Gate Park since 1890.
They don’t get up to much, grazing peacefully throughout the day, (with the occasional head-scratch or wallow to break up the afternoon!) but their enormous size and strange beauty make them a can’t miss attraction.
The sight of these majestic creatures is a stirring reminder of the glory of the American west.
It’s also one of the most iconic Golden Gate Park activities, with fabulous photo ops!
Where: The Buffalo Paddock is with Golden Gate Park, just off John F. Kennedy Drive in the north/west corner of the park.
When: Any time!
Expand your mind at the California Academy of Sciences
This is one spectacular museum, encompassing sea to sky and everything in between.
The name might sound a bit stuffy, but this cutting-edge, eco-friendly natural history museum is a thrilling place to visit for the whole family.
It’s one of the largest and most comprehensive museums of its type in the world, with more than 400,000 square feet of display space and thousands of eye-popping exhibits.
Part museum, part zoo, and encompassing the Steinhart Aquarium, a rain forest dome, and the largest digital planetarium in the world, this attraction is utterly not to be missed!
Where: 55 Music Concourse Drive (located right between Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd. and JFK Drive).
When: Open Monday – Saturday, 9:30 am – 5 pm, and Sunday, 11 am – 5 pm.
Admission: Adults $29.95, senior (ages 65 and over) and students, $24.95, youth (ages 12-17) $24.95, children (ages 4-11) $19.95. Children 3 and under admitted.
You’ll want to check out the concerts and music scene in San Francisco at Golden Gate Park as well.
With so many amazing things to see and do in Golden Gate Park, you probably won’t be able to visit all of these places in just one day, but that’s okay.
It’s a great excuse to extend your visit!
Music scene in San Francisco
Every part of American life has had an impact on modern, popular culture.
Nowhere is this more apparent than with its popular music.
The music scene in San Francisco a part of that.
America has turned out the biggest stars in recording history throughout the decades.
There’s Elvis Presley and Chuck Berry to Miley Cyrus and Madonna.
Every part of the United States has its own defining music.
There’s the competing rock and hip-hop scenes of Los Angeles and New York.
Think of Chicago with it’s rich jazz and blues roots.
There’s Appalachian bluegrass, New Orleans jazz, and Nashville’s country music.
San Francisco is no different.
Think of this iconic city on California’s Pacific coastline.
San Francisco’s famous streets and bay area landmarks was, for a time, the most innovative and significant exporter of American music to the whole world and continues to have a strong presence today.
San Francisco music history
Almost anybody with an idea of pop music’s evolving family tree will be able to tell you that the high point of the San Francisco music scene must surely have been in the middle part of the twentieth century.
Nothing typifies the San Francisco scene better than the mellow and harmonious sound of the music of the 1960’s, and the summer of love.
Perhaps then, the perfect place to begin your complete immersion in the San Francisco music scene experience would be at the famous Fillmore Auditorium.
It’s on the intersection of Fillmore street and Geary Boulevard.
The list of rock and roll luminaries who have played here is indeed longer than the names of those who haven’t.
There’s Jimi Hendrix, Led Zeppelin, Janis Joplin and The Grateful Dead among the faces that were familiar for their repeated appearance on the hallowed stage.
The venue itself has shifted its location a number of times since its flower power heyday.
Yet, the original location is still known as The Fillmore.
And whilst it now plays host to contemporary bands, it continues to honor its own psychedelic-era roots.
Music in San Francisco
There is still so much more to discover within this Californian coastal city’s musical offerings than the memories of past glories.
The modern music scene of San Francisco is defined by its numerous contrasting subcultures.
From twee pop to punk rock, and from freak folk Americana to an intense and competitive hip-hop underground, there is more than a little something of everything to keep the modern music fan’s ears occupied in this city.
How can a visitor make the most San Francisco in the short time they have there?
Any vacation to the San Francisco bay area will no doubt involve spending at least a few hours taking in the landmarks like the Golden Gate Bridge and time to enjoy the attractions at Golden Gate Park.
If you’re there in August, you can enjoy alternative rock, hip hop, heavy metal, and more at the renowned Outside Lands Music and Arts Festival.
You’ll find the city of San Francisco comes alive –its steep streets and undulating roads are all easily accessible.
Just don’t try to recreate any of those Steve McQueen jumps from Bullitt, and you’ll be fine!
Options for San Francisco music
There’s all types of music in San Francisco.
Depending on which time of year you find yourself in San Francisco, you’ll enjoy concerts, festivals, performances and events.
Come during Memorial Day weekend in May to the SF Popfest.
Here, you’ll enjoy three days of carefree tunes.
Or, if you are looking for an authentic slice of west coast blues, then the Saloon bar is the place to be, with live music every night of the week.
With an 150 year history, this blues bar is one of the mainstays of the city’s ever-changing music scene.
And, for a special night out, the Davies Symphony Hall is the permanent home of the San Francisco Symphony, guaranteeing every music fan a once-in-a-lifetime show.
America is a lot of things.
It’s the land of the free, and the home of apple pie.
There’s miles and miles of open roads, muscle cars and the Wild West.
Music has been a staple in all parts of America.
It’s been at a level which most other countries could never hope to emulate.
Experience the music scene in San Francisco
From hippies to head bangers, every music lover will find their ideal spot in San Francisco’s vibrant music scene.
What’s your favorite part about the San Francisco music scene?
US Cities to Visit Over Labor Day Weekend
Americans typically have less vacation time than their European counterparts, but nineteenth century workers who fought for fair work hours and vacation time earned Americans a three day weekend at the end of August.
The long weekend marks the “end of summer” for many returning from school holidays, and traditionally it’s a huge weekend of travel in the States.”
Visiting one of the following classic American cities ensures a Labor Day Holiday to remember:
New York is always a top destination for tourists on Labor Day, as there’s so much to see and do:
Visitors can see the famous sights such as the Statue of Liberty and Times Square, take in a Broadway show, and relax in Central Park.
The Electric Zoo dance festival takes place over the weekend, as does the West Indian-American Day Carnival in Crown Heights, and lucky tennis fans can snag tickets to the US Open.
Overlooked destinations in America – Chicago
The 35th annual jazz festival in Millennium Park is a fantastic way to wind down the summer – visitors should be sure to check out their reflection in “The Bean” sculpture while in the park.
Other musts while visiting Chicago include riding the “L” and eating some deep dish pizza or a Chicago-style hot dog – perhaps at Wrigley Field while enjoying a Cubs game?
Social Media savvy travelers can pick up highly discounted hotel rooms by letting their friends on Facebook know about the great deals they got.
Overlooked destinations in America Seattle
Home of the Space Needle, and boasting endless mountain and water views, Seattle is a great place to enjoy the last days of summer.
Its most famous musical exports include grunge and Jimi Hendrix, but its annual Bumbershoot music festival draws big attractions from all over the world and from all genres.
Watch fishmongers toss their wares with precision at the bustling Pike Place Market, drink a perfect cup of coffee, and enjoy the sunset over Elliot Bay from the new Ferris wheel installed on the waterfront.
Overlooked destinations in America Atlanta
Sports fans will be in heaven over Labor Day weekend in Atlanta, as Alabama’s Crimson Tide takes on Virginia Tech at the Georgia Dome on Saturday the 31st.
There will be no shortage of tailgating and boozy pre-game festivities.
NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Qualifying & Sprint Car Shootout
Visitors can embrace their inner redneck by checking out the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Qualifying & Sprint Car Shootout, but shouldn’t be alarmed by any zombies, klingons, and superheroes walking down the street – the Dragon Con parade also takes place this weekend.
Midtown Atlanta is a great place to stay, and visitors won’t be far from any of the action.
Overlooked destinations in America, Discover a Different Side of Ocean City Maryland
To most people, Ocean City, Maryland is all about Ferris wheels, roller coasters, bumper cars, and carousels.
What visitors often overlook is the wealth of activity that lies virtually hidden in close proximity to the popular resort town.
Here are some surprising things to do near Ocean City, Maryland:
Become Acquainted with Local Wildlife
Nature lovers can explore Chincoteague National Wildlife Reserve on Assateague Island, located just south of Ocean City.
The park, open year-round for swimming, fishing, bicycling, and boating, is home to a vast array of flora and fauna, including the famous Chincoteague pony.
Each year, the Chincoteague Volunteer Fire Department holds a fund-raising carnival during Pony Penning Week.
The highlight of this event is the herding of over 50 ponies across the Assateague Channel.”
The animals are then put up for auction the following day.
Visit the Herbert H. Bateman Educational and Administrative Center for details.
Think you know all there is to know about sharks, knot tying, beach safety, or the feeding of fish?
The Ocean City Life-Saving Station Museum is a fun center of educational activities and attractions for kids.
Stroll the Famous Boardwalk
Of course, summer is when the city really comes to life.
Stroll along the three-mile boardwalk and just try to run out of things to see and do.
Trimper’s Amusements features the country’s oldest continuously-running carousel.
At night, enjoy movies, concerts, and fireworks, all right on the beach, and free for the entire family.
Head on over to Sunset Park on South Philadelphia Avenue for the Sunset Park Party Night.
Bring your beach chairs, kick back, and watch the sunset. Admission to the park is free as well.
Enjoy the Local Art Scene
If you’re looking to tone things down a bit, local artists come down to the Ocean City Fishing Center Marina for Arts on the Dock, a showcase of diverse talent on Thursday nights during summer.
Maryland has been called “America in Miniature” for good reason.
A little of everything likable is well represented in this neat little place.
Ocean City is Maryland in miniature.